The development of insoluble, intracellular neurofibrillary tangles composed of the microtubule-associated protein tau is a defining feature of tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Accumulating evidence suggests that tau pathology co-localizes with RNA binding proteins (RBPs) that are known markers for stress granules (SGs). Here we used proteomics to determine how the network of tau binding proteins changes with disease in the rTg4510 mouse, and then followed up with immunohistochemistry to identify RNA binding proteins that co-localize with tau pathology. The tau interactome networks revealed striking disease-related changes in interactions between tau and a multiple RBPs, and biochemical fractionation studies demonstrated that many of these proteins including hnRNPA0, EWSR1, PABP and RPL7 form insoluble aggregates as tau pathology develops. Immunohistochemical analysis of mouse and human brain tissues suggest a model of evolving pathological interaction, in which RBPs co-localize with pathological phospho-tau but occur adjacent to larger pathological tau inclusions. We suggest a model in which tau initially interacts with RBPs in small complexes, but evolves into isolated aggregated inclusions as tau pathology matures.

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Published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, v. 6, 71, p. 1-14.

© The Author(s). 2018

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Funding Information

We would like to thank the following funding agencies for their support: BW: NIH (AG050471, NS089544, ES020395, AG056318) BrightFocus Foundation, Alzheimer Association, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the Thome Medical Foundation; BM: NS106751. JA: NIH (NS091329, AG028383, MD009205), Alzheimer’s Association NIRG-14-322441, Department of Defense AZ140097.

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Additional file 1: Figure S1-S6.

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Additional file 2: Table S1.

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Additional file 3: Table S2.